MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT: (08/03/11)

August 3, 2011
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By John Basher

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Dear Pro riders,
    You will always get a mention in the Mid-Week Report if you throw a look-back whip at me while you’re out racing or practicing. Need an example? Here you go. Thanks for the acknowledgment, Marvin Musquin. Merci!

KEVIN STRIJBOS TO REPLACE THE INJURED STEVE RAMON AT TEAM SUZUKI

The motocross world is rooting for Steve Ramon’s full recovery.


Suzuki’s GP team will count on the services of former team rider Kevin Strijbos for the remaining four rounds of the FIM MX1 World Championship after the injury to Steve Ramon at Lommel last Saturday. Strijbos will make a timely return to the factory team on the RM-Z450 at Loket this weekend for the Grand Prix of Czech Republic and round 12 of 15 in the series. It was at the hard-pack and fast course in 2005 that Strijbos gave the works machine its very first overall GP victory. Strijbos has a long association with the team and also Suzuki (four years with GRP) and was the perfect candidate to help fill the awning next to Clement Desalle for the remaining GP events in Czech Republic, UK, Germany and Italy. With Ramon’s blessing, Strijbos was able to test the bike Tuesday and will again represent the Belgian crew after twice finishing as World Championship runner-up while wearing its colors.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Kevin. “I’ve had a few bad weekends this season and also some other problems and this is a fantastic chance to show that I can still produce the goods, so I want to thank the team for picking me. I went to the workshop in Lommel yesterday and everything was exactly like it was before. Nothing had changed and it was like coming home. I hope I can repay some of the faith this weekend.”

As for Steve Ramon, The former World Champion was moved out of intensive care at a hospital in Genk (Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg) and transferred to a facility close to his home in Eeklo (AZ Alma) on Monday.

“Steve suffered a contusion of the spine and when the muscles began to ease he could regain feeling and move his legs. He can now sit-up and has begun the first steps of a 10-15-point plan,” said Dr Sam Vermeire. “There is a long way to go and we hope soon he will be able to take his first steps. When he can start to make ‘transfers’ such as moving from the bed, getting up to walk across the room, sitting down and-so-on; then he will be able to leave the hospital and go home to begin his rehab and physio from there. In four-to-six weeks we will know a lot more about his recovery and options for his career in the future,” he added. “It could be three-to-five months before there is a full recovery and perhaps some painful rehab ahead because of the nerve damage, but, like I said; the first positive steps have been made so we will see how we progress from here.”

MINI-VIEW: LANCE BRYSON

    The most hyped event at the X Games was Endurocross (ESPN labeled it Enduro-X), and the offroad racing didn’t disappoint. I caught up with one of the main men behind the race to discuss the track, the series, and how ESPN and the Endurocross series came to terms on a race.

MXA: Where did the idea come for Endurocross to be included in the X Games?
Lance: It all started about five years ago. Eric Peronnard has been working on Endurocross. ESPN had been working with Supercross and Supermoto. Finally they decided to give Endurocross a shot. It snowballed from there. The whole offroad industry was so pumped and excited about having Endurocross in the X Games. To be honest, ESPN didn’t know what to expect. Even though it was ESPN’s event, we put it on for them.

It was a big deal for Endurocross to be showcased to the masses in the X Games.
Absolutely! Endurocross puts the riders in front of a crowd. Typically in an offroad race these riders are out in the wilderness all by themselves. No one can actually see what they are doing. Put those same riders on an Endurocross course in front of a live television audience and they’re excited like little kids on Christmas! The riders were so pumped to be involved in the X Games.

Why did it take so long for both parties to come to an understanding and have Endurocross placed in the X Games?
It was ESPN’s call. They saw that Endurocross quickly became popular, and not just within the industry. There’s a buzz around Endurocross, and that it could appeal to the masses. You don’t have to ride a motorcycle to appreciate what these guys can do on a course full of boulders, logs, water holes and other obstacles.

Why was the X Games course was different from a typical Endurocross track?
The biggest difference was the start area. That thing was steep! We don’t usually have a vertical plunge that goes into the arena. It was insane! There were a lot of the same elements as a standard course, but we got the keys to the Staples Center at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night and had to finish everything 15 hours later. Usually it takes 30 hours to build an Endurocross course, but we had half the time. We were wide open!

There was a draw from motocross racers like Mike Brown, Ryan Hughes, and Eric Sorby that were interested and did race the event. Why do you think that was?
The biggest draw was the live television showing. There was a lot of excitement that was generated from Endurocross.

The X Games event wasn’t just a one-off event, because there’s a whole series.
Exactly. The X Games event was the opening round for the Geico Endurocross series. It was a Pro-only event, but the rest of the rounds will feature amateur racing. In two weeks we’re going to Washington, then Indianapolis, and Ontario, California. I’m especially excited about Ontario, because that’s where the motocross industry is. Every motocross superstar is within a half hour driving distance! Right now the offroad market is getting its due. Offroad is the glamour child at the moment. We just want everyone to come out and see what we have to offer.

Where can people find out more information on the Endurocross series?
They can visit us online at www.endurocross.com to find out all of the information for the series. Come enjoy the show!
 
X GAMES BEST WHIP: LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN…
    The biggest letdown of the X Games came during the conclusion of the Best Trick contest when Jeremy Stenberg was awarded the gold medal. I’m a fan of “Twitch” (did you see his get-off during Speed and Style?), but he wasn’t close to having the best whip of the evening. However, thanks to fan voting, Stenberg was given the top spot. It turns out that Best Whip isn’t actually about the best whip, but instead a vote to see who the most popular freestyle rider is. Thanks to “The X Life,” a reality TV show that Jeremy starred in, his “it” factor was through the roof (or at least big enough to garner 27% of the votes, good enough for the win).
    What should be done about the Best Trick contest? If I were king for the day (and since it’s my week to do the Mid-Week Report, I’ll voice my opinion), I’d change the judging format for Best Trick. The audience should play an active part in determining the outcome of Best Trick, but fan voting should only account for half of the total score. The other half should be judged by the same scoring panel that takes care of Best Trick, Freestyle and Speed & Style. The audience votes, coupled with the judge scores, would determine the winner. It would no longer be a popularity contest but instead a legitimate event.
    Here’s a look back at Best Trick. I pulled the top two photos from each participant and pitted them against one another. And if you still believe that the finishing order should be Twitch, Potter, McNeil, Hansen, Pages and Adams then go pound sand.

Behold, the classic whip…

Nate Adams.


Josh Hansen.


Jarryd McNeil.


Thomas Pages.


Todd Potter.


Jeremy Stenberg.

And now, the backwards whip…


Nate Adams.


Josh Hansen (Hanny didn’t quite have the 180 whip in his arsenal, but the no footer is pretty cool).


Jarryd McNeil.


Thomas Pages.


Todd Potter.


Jeremy Stenberg.

    Who should have won? My vote goes to Jarryd McNeil, followed by Thomas Pages, Todd Potter, Jeremy Stenberg, Nate Adams and Josh Hansen.

THE MATRIX CONCEPTS M3 UTILITY CAN

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MINI-VIEW: TADDY BLAZUSIAK

Photo courtesy of KTM.

    There’s no argument about Taddy Blazusiak’s skills on a motorcycle. The native of Poland ate up the X Games Endurocross course on his way to the gold medal and a significant chunk of change that goes along with it. Here’s what Taddy had to say about Endurocross, his thoughts on the future, and he even offers up helpful advice for motocross riders.  

MXA: How important was it for Endurocross to be at the X Games?
Taddy: It was very important, because the X Games are huge. I’m really happy that Endurocross got that extra push.

Why did you decide to come over to the U.S. and ride Endurocross in the first place?
My team in Europe was sending me all over the place to race different events and figure out what I could focus on. When I raced Endurocross for the first time I won, so that was exciting. Then I started coming over to the U.S. every year to compete in the series. I won the championship two years in a row, and I’m happy about that.

Where did you get your incredible bike handling skills?
My background is in trials, and I owe a lot to that sport. I rode trials for about ten years on the world level. Then when I was 22 I got into offroad and started winning. I was always riding for factory teams back home in trials. One year I had issues with my team, so we parted ways. That’s when I went to Erzberg for the first time and won. I was talking to teams about doing trials after that, but then I got a deal with KTM to race offroad.

How difficult is it to race Erzberg?
It’s a crazy event! It’s very special. You must have technical skills. The speed changes all of the time. You’ll be going 100 miles an hour, and then you have to downshift to first gear. It’s physically demanding, and my heart rate is about 200 beats per minute for two hours!


Photo: KTM.

How do you train for events like Endurocross?
It’s a little bit of everything. I’ve been racing bikes my whole life. I know what works for me, and I know how to get myself in shape. For an event like Erzberg you just have to have the skills. You have to push yourself super hard for two hours. I do that race and then I’m shot for a whole week. In Endurocross it’s just like a Supercross track. If you get comfortable hitting obstacles super hard then you can back off a bit and flow around the track. I get in a rhythm and find a flow. I try to do the same thing every lap.

I heard a rumor that you want to compete in Step Up next year at the X Games. Is that true?
Yeah! I was watching Step Up on TV in my hotel room, and it looks fun. I don’t know if I will be able to do it, but I’d like to give it a shot. I’d like to have that opportunity. I look forward to new challenges. I love riding bikes, and while it’s my job, I love to do it. Heck, maybe I’ll do Rally in two years! Why not? If you asked me ten years ago what I’d be doing now I wouldn’t say that I was going to be an offroad guy. I just wait and see what life brings me.

What advice can you offer to anyone that rides motocross?
I’m not a motocross rider, but every day I look to improve myself. I work to improve my corner speed, my offroad skills, and be better every day. If you have that desire to be better then you’ll succeed. If you don’t then maybe you should quit.

Will you be staying in the U.S. for a long time this year?
No, not really, because I have some stuff going on back home. I fly in and out, and then maybe I’ll stay a little bit longer in the U.S. at the end of the year when there isn’t so much racing going on.

MINI-VIEW: MARK MONEA

Photo: Monster Energy.

    The world was introduced to Mark Monea Thursday evening when the friendly Aussie tried his signature trick, dubbed the “Carry On,” in the X Games Best Trick contest. Mark nearly twisted and turned his way into a medal; that was, until his front wheel washed out on the landing and he went down in a heap. Oh-so-close to nailing the trick for the first time in competition, instead Monea suffered a concussion and watched as Jackson Strong landed a front flip and won gold. Here’s what Mark had to say after the night was over.

MXA: Where did you get the idea to try the front flip 360?
Mark: I have a background in BMX. I worked on the front flip a few years ago before anyone had even thought about doing it on a motocross bike. I realized that I had to do a twist to get the trick done. I learned it through BMX, and I was able to work it out on a dirt bike.

Is it true that when you do the front flip 360, or what you call the “Carry On,” it feels like you’re really doing a front flip without the twist?
Yeah. Sometimes now I know exactly where I am, and I can tell that I’m all crossed up.
When I tried the trick in Best Trick everything felt great.

So everything was going great in Best Trick and you thought that you had the jump nailed?
Yes. It was the best one that I had ever done. The front tire washed out on the landing, and I really didn’t expect that to happen. I thought that I had it dialed.


This video isn’t the best quality, but it certainly paints a picture.

Why did you decide to do a no-hander in the middle of the trick?
I always decide what I’m going to do while I’m in the air. When I had been practicing them I always can tell right away off the lip whether I should do a no-hander or not. When I went off the lip in Best Trick I knew that I was spot on, so I threw the no-hander. I got my hands exactly where I needed to be. I landed in a full racing style, but that front wheel went away.

How are you feeling?
I got a concussion and bruised my face up. My hip problem is an old injury. I originally hurt my hip running a while ago, and when my hip slammed into the ground the other night it disturbed my hip. I’ll be back on the bike in a couple of weeks.

What did you think of the whole X Games atmosphere?
It was amazing! Sitting up on top of the deck looking around at the people was cool. I’m so thankful that I had the background with the Nitro Circus Live show and the Crusty Demons tour. I’ve been in stadiums, so I didn’t freak out too much. I’m glad that I’ve had the background, but I’m disappointed that it didn’t work out.

What’s your plan from here on out?
I’m going to stick with freestyle. I want to be doing full competitive runs and not just one trick. Riding bikes is my life and it’s what I want to do.

What is the deal with Australia? There were, what, five of you in Best Trick?
[Laughter] Everyone in Australia wants it so bad, so they try really hard. There aren’t any X Games events at home in Australia, so people have to push hard to come to the U.S. and compete here.

Do you follow motocross at all?
Heck yes! I love motocross. I follow the sport closely, and I ride moto whenever I can. My little brother, Adam, is a Pro racer in Australia. He got second a couple of years ago in the championship. Racing is where I’ve come from, and I’ll always do it. That’s how you get your bike skills for freestyle motocross. I love it.

A FEW PHOTOS FROM COMPETITIVE EDGE YESTERDAY

Justin Barcia was piloting a 450.


Ryan Morais.


Marvin Musquin.


Cole Seely.


Eli Tomac.

MINI-VIEW: REGIS HARRINGTON
    Regis Harrington is the head moto judge at the X Games, but he’s also a retired professional racer and current stunt man living in Louisiana. I have had the pleasure of working with Regis for several years now as an X Games judge, and we had a little time to chat between judging sessions.

MXA: Why are you living in Louisiana?
Regis: I moved there to pursue my dream of being a full-time stunt man. The government is giving a huge tax break to motion pictures and production companies for doing work in Louisiana. They are filming a lot of commercials, television shows and feature films there. I’ve done stunt work part-time for about ten years, but I’m not getting any younger. I made the commitment to move there in hope of getting a full-time gig.

You were living in San Diego and working at a car collision repair shop. It must be a change of pace moving from southern California to Louisiana.
I owned a house in San Diego and worked for Greg Carter at Carter Collision. He was a great boss that allowed me to take time off for stunt work and freestyle judging gigs, but I wanted to be a stunt man full-time for a living. So far everything is going very well.

What productions have you been in lately?
Since the beginning of the year I’ve been in eight different feature films. I’ve made a lot of connections and have worked with a lot of good actors.

Are you only doing motorcycle stunt work, or are you branching out into other stunts?
That was the most important thing about moving to Louisiana. In southern California I made a decent name for myself in the motorcycle stunt segment, but there are so many great motorcycle stunt men in Hollywood. So far I’ve done car driving and some fight scenes. I actually just did my first three-quarter body fire burn. I’ve been training and approaching stunt work just like I did when I raced professionally. I try to better myself every week and get hired to do work.

What sparked your interest to become a stunt man in the first place?
It all comes from riding. I get the same feeling doing stunts as I did when I raced Supercross or the Nationals. The adrenaline gets going and it feels great. I also like the preparation and the planning that goes along with it. I like to be the guy in front of the camera, too. I developed a passion for doing stunts when I started doing motorcycle stunts. I got to see what stunt men did and it interested me.

You’re the head judge for the X Games motorcycle events, and you have been for quite some time. Being a judge, I get to work pretty closely with you. It’s a stressful job, but I think you get more stressed than all of the judges combined!
My anxiety is getting worse! In the last three years with the tricks that these guys are doing in Best Trick, I get ill watching them. I’m screaming and pacing back and forth because it’s nerve racking. I remember picking myself up in Supercross multiple times, so I know what those guys go through when they crash. However, all of the judges have every right to make fun of me. I’m dancing around like a little girl when these guys are going to do their tricks. I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt.

Has the envelope been pushed too far in freestyle?
It’s a tricky question. Things are changing. The last couple of years we’ve had guys in Best Trick that aren’t skilled riders. Yet they huck these big jumps and then crash wildly. This year I was nervous because of what I saw from the last couple of years, but everyone this year was skilled. It was a different competition this year. I didn’t think anyone was going to get hung up halfway through a flip and possibly die. The progression hasn’t gone too far. This year we had the right riders invited for Best Trick. We just have to be careful on who gets the invite for X Games.

I thought it was a bit careless for Travis Pastrana to go for a second attempt right away on the backflip 720 after crashing hard on his first attempt.
That second jump would not have been counted. It was a risk that Travis took. I can’t speak for Travis, but to me it seems like because he was hung up for two years on doing that trick it’s been haunting him. He was somewhat close to landing it the first time, and a switch went off in his head. He must have figured that he knew what he had to do to get it, but the end result was bad. The X Games thing had him wrapped up. It reminded me of when Tony Hawk kept on going for the 900. If Travis hadn’t gotten hurt on the second attempt then he might have gone for a third attempt. At that point it wasn’t about the medal or the money. He wanted to finish the trick, which was commendable, but it ended him.

Do you think that the Best Whip event needs to be changed?
I like what ESPN is doing by getting the fans involved, but I think that event needs a new name. Jeremy Stenberg is a phenomenal rider, but he didn’t have the best whip. It seemed more like a popularity contest. If the event is going to be called “Best Whip” then the best whip needs to win. If they continue to stay with the fan vote then the event should be called “Fan Favorite” or something along those lines. Right now it sends out a false message when you call it “Best Whip” and see the results. I few of the top running guys would admit that McNeil, Pages and Potter had the best whips. There’s no doubting that, and then to see the results was a bit disheartening.

VIDEO: CORNERING WITH PJ LARSEN

ITALIAN EXOTICS! TM MOTORCYCLES HAS NEW USA WEBSITE


Exotic Italian brand TM has roared back into the U.S. market with a big splash. The hand-built Italian motorcycles have been hard-to-find over the past few years, but with moto-maestro Pete Vetrano back in command agian, the new bikes are pouring in and dealers are signing up.

MXA has already tested the TM MX450 four-stroke and TM MX300 two-stroke….and has a TM MX144 (above) test coming out in the next issue.

TM’s new website includes a complete list of current TM Motorcycle dealers across the country (plus contact info for dealer who would like to carry the full line of TM bikes. TM USA offers both enduro and motocross models in two- and four-stroke versions in 125, 144, 250, 300, 250F and 450F sizes. To check out TM Motorcycles, go to www.tmmotorcyclesusa.com

BIG NEWS! KTM IS NUMBER ONE IN DIRT BIKE SALES

Former GP racer Pit Beier is now in management at KTM…and he is happy.

KTM Offroad Director Pit Beirer told MXlarge that, “With the new motocross generation {of bikes} we have already tripled motocross bike sales in America. For the first time in history we are market leader in the sale of all offroad bikes. If you put enduro, motocross and other offroad bikes together, we are the leader, not in motocross, but in offroad in general. We feel that in motocross {sales} we still have to improve, but in enduro and other offroad racing we are strong. The next goal is to win a Supercross in a stadium holding 70,000 people, and that is of course where we want to be.”

VERSUS GONE! TO BE REBRANDED AS ?NBC SPORTS GROUP’

In five months the Versus Channel will change its name to the NBC Sports Group as cable giant Comcast puts its stamp on its new NBC Universal deal. Most TV viewers will think of Versus as the Tour de France channel, but it has a rich history in programming motocross coverage over the years. “This effort is a major step towards a complete strategic alignment of all our platforms and businesses,” NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus said. “This is more than just a name change for Versus. It’s a complete repositioning of the brand to provide value for marketers, consumers as well as all our affiliates and distributors. We want anyone who comes into contact with any of our assets to immediately connect with the NBC Sports brand promise.” For those with memories, Versus was originally called “Outdoor Life Network ” (OLN). NBC also owns a cable sports channel called “Universal Sports.”

The reason for the five month wait for the launch is that NBC wants to use its fours biggest events of the winter schedule to help promote the change. NBC will air the final Sunday night game of the NFL regular season on New Year’s Day night; then the Winter Classic the next afternoon; the following Saturday will be the opening round of the NFL playoffs; and finally, on Sunday, Feb. 5, NBC will be broadcasting Super Bowl XLVI.

JOSH COPPINS CRASHES OUT OF AUSSIE TITLE CHASE: MARMONT WINS FOURTH OZ FEST

Americans will remember Matt Moss as part of the Suzuki team in 2010. He had a lackluster year in the AMA Nationals.

Yamaha Australia’s Jay Marmont won the Australian 450 National Motocross Championship for the fourth straight year in what was the most unlikely of outcomes. To win the title Marmont had to make up an 18-point deficit at the final round of the year in Coolum. In truth, he needed something bad to happen to New Zealand’s Josh Coppins. As it worked out, the former GP rider from New Zealand was involved in a first turn clash with Kawasaki’s Dean Ferris and neither could ride the final two motos. Coppins dislocated his shoulder and although he tried to  race moto two, but couldn’t take the pain on the starting line. The 28-year-old Marmont said, “You’ve gotta be in it to win it.”

KTM’s Matt Moss won his second 250 Australian National Championship with a 4-9-1-5 day (in Australia they ride a lot of short motos instead of two long motos like the rest of the world). Kirk Gibbs finishes second overall for the year?only ten points adrift of Moss. Gibbs went 2-1-2-1 at Coolum. American Phil Nicoletti finished the year in third overall.


Josh Coppins was a factory Yamaha rider on the GP circuit, but after racing the Aprilia twin he decided to retire. He signed with Yamaha again to race the 2011 Australian Nationals.

FINAL 2011 AUSTRALIAN 450 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1. Jay Marmont…682
2. Josh Coppins…650
3. Billy Mackenzie…636
4. Dean Ferris…601
5. Cheyne Boyd…537
6. Michael Phillips…510
7. Lawson Bopping…497
8. Cody Cooper…449
9. Louis Calvin…340
10. Beau Ralston…246

FINAL 2011 AUSTRALIAN 250 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1. Matt Moss…638
2. Kirk Gibbs…628
3. Phil Nicoletti…544
4. Brenden Harrison…533
5. Kade Mosig…529
6. Daniel McCoy…518
7. Josh Cachia…480
8. Justin McDonald…464
9. Cody Mackie…454
10. Luke Styke…437

LAP OF HONOR & FUND RAISER FOR NICK VARNER

Nick Varner raced both motocross and speedway.
Photo: Jim Thorn

There will be a lap of honor and a raffle to support the Varner family after the tragfic loss of their son Nick in a racing accident. Vet X wil host the event at Glen Helen Raceway on August 14. You do not need to be present to win raffle. For more info or to see how you can help call any of the following: Andie Anderson (760) 964-2391; Camille Bynum (760) 947-7799 or Craig Davis (949) 400-1089.

HONDA TO EXPAND FACTORY CAPACITY…IN NAM

Bikes may not be selling in the USA and Europe, but Honda announced last Monday that it will build a third motorcycle plant in Vietnam at a cost of $120 million to shore up its leading market presence there. The third plant, to become operational in the second half of 2012, will lift annual production capacity at Honda’s local subsidiary to 2.5 million motorcycles a year. Honda owns 64 percent of the Vietnamese market share.

BUY NEW WHEELS, GET FREE GRAPHICS KIT

Dubya USA is now offering customers who order a complete wheelset in the month of August a free One Industries Delta Graphic Kit. “One is pumped to be working with Dubya! We love collaborating with other brands that have the same passion for the sport. Dubya works with the best, we are glad we are included,” said One Industries Brand Manager Danny Dobey.

“Every month we try to offer our customers a unique special, and I think this months is our best so far,” said Dubya Founder Kristin White Anderson. “One Industries offers some of the best graphics kits around, and whether your freshening up the bike in your garage or dialing in a brand new one, graphics and wheels are the perfect combination!” For more information on Dubya sales and specials, check out their website at www.dubyausa.com.

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